Note to Self: I am His!!!

Fact: There are days when I question, “am I saved enough?” This isn’t because I’m not secure in my salvation, but moreso due to me looking at how others respond to God or what they consider the things of God. I’m​ not into “churching” aka being in church for the sake of being in church(powerless services, conferences, and etc.). I don’t observe Jewish holidays, and I don’t care to be so “deep” in the things of the Spirit that I fail to love in my pursuit of this knowledge. As I start to focus on what others are doing, I begin to think simply loving Him and loving others is not enough. Then these two verses come to mind, and I get back on track:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12, 13

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”- John 13: 34,35

He provides me with the will to do what pleases Him, and ultimately that is to love Him and others more. Sometimes the reminder is needed that I am His and his love flowing through me proves it. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

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Nuggets from Noah: The Perks of Living in an Ark

This reflection was written July 8, 2016 in one of my journals. Today I was reminded of it. I was encouraged all over again. I pray it encourages you:

Today I felt led to read the story of Noah (Genesis 7:9-17). While reading, I tried to rush through it assuming I knew everything there was about Noah. The Holy Spirit, said “slow down and read all of it.”  As I started to take my time to read, I recognized the time it took for Noah’s world to return to its regularly scheduled programming (i.e. no animals, no living in an ark, and etc.). It took well over a year for things to return to “normal.” It took 40 days to flood the earth and over a year to restore the land.

As I read this story, I started to see my life. I too have been in an ark, a place of protection during the flood of life.  It is as if all that was good, honest, and true were permitted to remain while every lie, deception, past mistake, and negative mindset were left out of my ark. The world as I knew it was being destroyed around me; and I was forced to be by myself as things from my past were being drowned by the torrential rains of God’s love, truth, forgiveness, and grace. It was cold and dark, but I was never alone. Being in similar situations, I assumed it would not take as long to get out the ark. However almost 7 ½ months later, I am still in the ark. Things are slowly returning to normal, and the sun is starting to shine again. It is not quite time to come out, but I have more hope that the doors will be opening soon.

I must retract my statement about Noah’s life returning to normal. Nothing was normal about Noah’s life after leaving the ark. In the beginning of the story, he had just a piece of land to call his own. Now, he had the world as his possession. He already had authority as the patriarch of his family; but he obtained dominion over the earth upon leaving the ark. His family had been entrusted with replenishing the earth for the glory of God. He went into the ark as a servant, and he left it as a Ruler. He went into the ark following commands, but he left it free to do what his heart desired.  Noah was a completely different man a year or so later after being in the ark. He had become wiser; skilled at taming animals; and a great strategist dealing with the issues that arouse on the ark. Noah’s patience was perfected while waiting to be released from the ark. He became a master at caring for creation. He developed a deeper understanding of God while enduring the flood. Building the ark proved God to be a provider. Living in the ark proved God to be a protector and sustainer of His creation.

 Today you may be in what appears to be the greatest storm of your life. Having gone through a few storms, you assumed God would have responded by now. However, you do not know what is being prepared beyond your limited view of the situation. God is developing a place where you can thrive, have dominion, and enjoy His creation. Take a lesson from Noah and wait on God. Allow God to handle what is outside of your power, and you tend to what you can fix. Allow this time to perfect your love and skills. Let the truth of God’s love for you assure you that this time will not last forever.

Noah received new instructions upon leaving the ark, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:2) Initially, he was restricted by what could go into the ark. Once Noah was released, he was given permission to produce as much as he could for as long as he could. Authority is given to those who submit themselves to God’s will during the time of a storm. I pray you will be found submitting yourself to God’s will while in your storm. There is something God is working inside of you and outside of the ark. Yield to the process and watch God keep his promise of protection and provision. You’ll be released from the ark at the perfect time. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

 

 

 

 

Do not RSVP: A look at Proverbs 23:6-8

So today I had prepared to write a blog on the scripture “for as a man thinketh so is he…” I had all my great points written out, and I was excited about what I had to say. Then something amazingly awful happened. I read the passage and had to start from scratch. The scripture in its proper context did not support the words I wrote, and I had to discard my thoughts because I had no biblical support for them. I soon discovered that all my life I have been paraphrasing  this scripture, and using the misinterpretation of others to interpret it for myself. Here is the passage that I am speaking of Proverbs 23:6-8:

Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. 8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words. (King James Version)

Every time I have heard verse 7 preached it has always been in the form of encouraging people to watch their thought life. However, this scripture is not encouraging people to watch their thought life. It is a warning for us to be mindful of the character and motives of others. It is encouraging us to consider those we fellowship with and be conscientious of the fact that some people will invite you places and have no desire for your presence. For those who may think I am off my rocker let’s try the same passage in the New Living Translation. It says:

6 Don’t eat with people who are stingy; don’t desire their delicacies.7 They are always thinking about how much it costs.“Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.8 You will throw up what little you’ve eaten,and your compliments will be wasted.

Nowhere in this scripture are we being warned to watch our thoughts, but we are being warned to consider the character of those who request our presence. It is ensuring us that if we eat with people that we know are selfish, we will eventually regret every bite! Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible suggests, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he, He is not the man his mouth speaks or declares him to be, but what his heart thinks; which is discovered by his looks and actions, and by which he is to be judged of, and not by his words. Eat and drink, saith he to thee, but his heart is not with thee; he bids you eat and drink, but he does not desire you should…” Everyone’s table is not worth a visit. We should consider their character before accepting their invitation.

Since the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:1 that “…every fact shall be sustained and confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses,” (AMP) allow me to present one more translation on this text to validate the true meaning of Proverbs 23:6-8. The Douay-Rheims Bible says:

Eat not with an envious man, and desire not his meats: 7 Because like a soothsayer, and diviner, he thinketh that which he knoweth not. Eat and drink, will he say to thee: and his mind is not with thee. 8 The meats which thou hadst eaten, thou shalt vomit up: and shalt loose thy beautiful words. 

For the third time, we see our personal thought life has nothing to do with this scripture; but the text is warning us to be aware of the intent of others. The addition of “because like a soothsayer and diviner” comes from the late fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible known as the Vulgate. I actually wish the modern Bible translations would have kept that in there to make the text more clear. Just like the soothsayer and diviner deceive, bamboozle, and cause great havoc in the lives of those who take their bribes or use their services; so is the envious or selfish person who invites you to dinner. It is best you go without for the day rather than dine with the person you know is never doing good for anyone else except themselves.

So if you are still with me let me conclude with these few points:

  1. Make it your business to find out what the scripture says for yourself.
  2. If you discover that your interpretation was wrong, admit it and adjust your life to the scriptures not your feelings or misinterpretation.
  3. There are scriptures in the Bible that will support the need for us to change our thinking but Proverbs 23:6-8 are not the ones to use.
  4. Do not eat at the table of a person whose character consist of envy, jealousy, and selfishness. If you ignore this warning, you will regret it.
  5. Make it a point to never to be the person described in Point 4. If those words describe you, today is a great day to allow the Lord to change your heart.

 

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope this has encouraged you! Have an awesome day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: https://www.buzzfeed.com/emofly/hannibal-food-secrets-janice-poon?utm_term=.slVbY3wJZl#.gye7dE3xKr

Getting Know God: El Roi

El Roi: The God Who Sees Me

One of my favorite names to use for God when praying is El Roi. Every time I use it I find it to be an instant reminder that He is aware of my circumstances. It tends to ease the ache of the request; and it sets God back in his proper place as God above all that is bothering me. In Genesis 16, we are introduced to the name El Roi, by a woman named Hagar. For those of us who may not be familiar with Hagar, she was the servant of Sarai (Abram’s wife). Sarai had the bright idea to help God in fulfilling His promise to her husband and suggested that Abram sleep with Hagar. As Sarai desired, Hagar became pregnant. Once pregnant Hagar started to treat Sarai with contempt (v.4). Sarai returns the favor and treats Hagar so harshly that she runs away.  It is in this time of running that she is found by the loving-kindness of God:

7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied. 9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” 10 Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”11 And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress. 12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”13 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”a She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” 14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered. 15 So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. (New Living Translation)

I find the timing of God very interesting in this story. At any moment, He could have revealed himself. However, he waits until she is expecting and in a dry place before He reveals he has been with her the entire time. He waits until she is out of options, without friends, and without any sense of direction before he says, “I see you!” He allows her to feel every ounce of fear, isolation, and abandonment before revealing the I AM is with you. It was not until she was away from all that she had known that she came to know God for herself.

God did not simply reveal himself to her in the wilderness; but he spoke to her purpose. He provided her with instructions on how to rectify her past mistakes (v.9); and he gave her insight to what her future would entail (vv. 10-12). It never cease to amaze me that how one encounter with God can bring wholeness and clarity to the thing(s) that pains us the most. Hagar heeded to the instructions that were given to her, and she was able to return “home” with a better understanding of who her God was and what was in store for her future.

For those of us who may be in a wilderness situation like Hagar, I would encourage us to:

  1.  Sit still for a moment and allow the voice of God to speak to our situation.
  2. Admit where we were wrong and mishandled the situation, relationship, and etc.
  3. Stop rehearsing the offenses and choose to forgive those who hurt you. 
  4. Obey the instructions that God give us.
  5. Walk free from condemnation knowing that the God who sees has come to your rescue.

El Roi is aware of all that is hurting you, and he is waiting for the moment that you stop trying to figure things out. He longs to commune with you so that He can reveal the truth of who His and who you are to you. My prayer is that you come to know God as El Roi, the God who sees me so that you can see yourself as He does. Hagar’s life was never the same, and I am certain your will not be either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: https://biblein2015.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/el-roi-the-god-who-sees-me.jpg

Ask for Help: Tips on Surrendering to the Will of God

” Teach me to do Your will. For you are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.”-Psalm 143:10

I truly believe this verse should be the prayer of every Christian. Our hearts should long to know and to do God’s will. We should desire to know His plans for our lives. We should long to fulfill those plans. This longing is admirable, but we should at  some point in our spiritual journey  go from simply desiring His will to submitting ourselves to His will. Here a four ways to ensure that you are doing just that:

1.Recognize Your inability to do God’s will outside of His help. The first sentence in this scripture indicates one man’s recognition of needing God’s help in order to do His will. As I was studying, I came across a beautifully written description by  MacLaren’s Expositions that helps illustrates this point :

We may learn from this prayer, then, that practical conformity to God’s will can never be attained by our own efforts. Remember all the hindrances that rise between us and it; these wild passions of ours, this obstinate gravitating of tastes and desires towards earth, these animal necessities, these spiritual perversities, which make up so much of us all-how can we coerce these into submission? Our better selves sit within like some imprisoned king, surrounded and ‘fooled by the rebel powers’ of his revolted subjects; and our best recourse is to send an embassy to the Over-lord, the Sovereign King, praying Him to come to our help. We cannot will to will as God wills, but we can turn ourselves to Him, and ask Him to put the power within us which shall subdue the evil, conquer the rebels, and make us masters of our own else anarchic and troubled spirits. For all honest attempts to make the will of God our wills, the one secret of success is confident and continual appeal to Him. A man must have gone a very little way, very superficially and perfunctorily, on the path of seeking to make himself what he ought to be, unless he has found out that he cannot do it, and unless he has found out that there is only one way to do it, and that is to go to God and say, ‘O Lord! I am baffled and beaten. I put the reins into Thy hand; do Thou inspire and direct and sanctify.’

If we are ever going to do the will of God, we must recognize that it can only happen with His help.

2.Surrender your free will to God’s will.  The interesting thing about God is that He does not typically force His way on people. In his kindness, He has given us “free will,” and our free will often conflicts with His. This is why the Psalmist plea of asking God to “teach me to your will” is so important. It is by asking to be taught that he simultaneously surrenders his own free will and submits himself to God. The moment we ask for God’s help is the moment we surrender all that we know and yield to what He is willing to teach us.

3.Know Who God is. After praying that God teaches him, the psalmist points out, “Your spirit is good.” By this phrase we come to understand why the psalmist was able to surrender his will. His understanding of God’s goodness made surrendering to His will the only proper response. The goodness of God compelled him to trust God with his life, and it should compel us to do the same.

4.Know where God leads. After acknowledging God’s goodness, the psalmists then cries out, “Lead me in the land of uprightness.” This gives the psalmist a measuring stick of whether the places his feet trod are God’s will or his. As he pursues what is right He can rest assure he is being led by God. God will rarely lead us to a place that His goodness and righteousness cannot be found. For the most part, he leads us beside quiet streams. When we are committed to doing life His way righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost is our portion.

If we truly desire to surrender our lives to God, we must be like the psalmist and recognize we cannot do it without Him. We must drop all of our pride and ask God for help. We have to be convinced of who God is so that in the moments He requires more than we would like to give, we trust what we know about Him over our desire. I will not pretend that a life of surrender is not difficult at times. It can be excruciatingly painful in those moments you would prefer to do things your way. However, his grace is sufficient and he helps those who ask for it. My prayer for us all is that we would drop our pride and lift our hands in total surrender to the purposes and plans of God for our lives. He is ready to lead us when we are ready to surrender.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/03/12/new-research-confirms-black-students-better-taught-black-teachers/

The Inclusivity of the Gospel

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!”-Romans 10:13

Before you freak out, this is not my Coming Out Speech in support of  The Gospel of Inclusion. This is my little exhaustive list of what the Apostle Paul meant by the word “everyone” in Romans 10:13.  I believe this scripture reveals the love, equality, and mercy of God to mankind. Everyone is welcomed to receive salvation if they so desire it. There are no prerequisites.  There are no background or credit checks. Your I.Q is not taken into consideration. Your family history does not keep you from it. Your past is not held against you. Everyone means EVERYONE.

It does not matter if you are liberal or conservative. It does not matter if you are a democrat or republican. It does not matter if you are voting for Trump or Clinton. It does not matter if you watch Fox News or CNN. Salvation is yours if you call on the name of the Lord.

It does not matter if you were once a Satanist. It does not matter if you grew up in a Muslim home. It does not matter if you were once a Buddhist. It does not matter if you were once a Five Percenter. It does not matter if you were a Voodoo priest or priestess. It does not matter if you were Wiccan or you worship St. Lucia. Salvation is yours if you call on the name of the Lord.

It does not matter if you enjoy telling little white lies or large white lies. It does not matter if you have found yourself to be a thief, gossiper, and a cheater. It does not matter if you have had an abortion. It does not matter if you have a proclivity towards pedophilia, pornography, homosexuality, or bestiality. It does not matter if you are murderer, rapist, or what most consider  to be the lowest of humanity. Salvation is yours if you call on the name of the Lord.

I will admit it took me a while to be comfortable with the idea that everyone can receive salvation. It was only a problem because in my humanity I considered some sins greater than others; but in His divinity, God sees them all the same. He provides the same remedy for every sin we will find ourselves entangled in, and that is SALVATION! God never intended salvation to be so complicated. It has always been a matter of simply confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life; and anyone who believes and confess is a recipient of this wonderful Salvation. It is available to “EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD!” Let us stop making Jesus so unattainable to people. Let us keep the Gospel message as simple as Jesus made it in John 3:16, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”(New Living Translation) It really is as simple as believing in Christ and confessing him as our Savior. I pray that will be the Gospel we share with others. It is really the only one worth sharing!-Charity Israel

 

 

Photo Credit: http://billypenn.com/2015/08/04/the-pope-in-philly-how-many-people-could-actually-fit-on-the-ben-franklin-parkway/

Keep Calm and Just Trust God!


isaiah

“For since the world, no ear has heard, and no eyes has seen a God like you, who works for those wait for him.”Isaiah 64:4

At this present moment life appears to be working against me, and I feel like I’m in a holding pattern waiting to land in a beautiful place. Needless to say, I was in dire need of encouragement and this scripture provided it. After reading it, all I could do was pray “Holy Spirit teach me how to rest while I wait for you.”

As I uttered that prayer, Isaiah 26:3,4 came to mind. It says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. Trust in the Lord always for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” Before I could finish writing that verse out to encourage myself, Proverbs 3:5,6 started to flow out my mouth like water. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

It suddenly clicked that it is in Total Trust that I find rest while waiting for God.  What is Total Trust? It is the complete surrender of our hearts and minds to the faithfulness of God. Total Trust is where we exchange the pride of life for his Presence. It is where we yield our anxiety for His peace. It is where we cast our cares at his feet and soak in his Love. Total Trust is the place where we surrender our limited knowledge and take rest in his Omniscience. It is where we yield our worry to bask in the beauty of his Sovereignty.

As believers, God made it possible for us to go through the worst of life trials with “peace that surpasses our understanding.”(Philippians 4:7) But we will never tap into that peace if we keep our minds on everything other than Him. Our focus in the midst of tribulations is what determines whether we rest in Him or become consumed by circumstances.

Today I pray we choose to rest in Him. I pray we choose to turn our focus on the ETERNAL faithfulness of our God instead of the temporary reality of life. I’m not asking that we pretend that life does not hurt at the moment, but I am encouraging us to focus on the Truth of our Father’s love instead of the facts of life. When it is over we will look back in awe of His provision, and we will laugh at how stressed out we were about the situation.

I encourage us to skip past the worry this time and fast forward to worship. God is going to be faithful to perform His word over our life, and I pray we take rest in that truth. God loves us; and this trial is another opportunity to learn how to rest while waiting for God to come through. I pray we learn the lesson this time. Isaiah tells us, God “works for those who wait for Him.” Hang in there, the Father is coming to see about you.

 

 

The Danger of Living “Your Truth”

truthThe heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

Yesterday on Twitter I tweeted, “If living “your truth” is sin in the sight of God, you are still living a lie. As Christians, the Bible always trumps our truth.” I followed that tweet up with “satisfying your flesh is bliss until the enemy comes to collect and sin is always paid in death.#Romans6:23 #readit” I know death sounds extreme, but it is true. Consider a thief, he enjoys the instant gratification of acquiring that stolen object, but once he is discovered he will either experience death to his freedom (jail time) or to his life (killed by the owner). Consider the adulteress, she enjoys the moments of pleasure with her lover, but once her infidelity is discovered it oftentimes lead to the death of her marriage. Need more proof? Consider the gossiper, he or she thoroughly enjoys spreading rumors, until the death of a friendship or their smile because someone hit them in the mouth and took a couple teeth in the process. LOL

You may be wondering, Charity what does that have to do with living my truth?” I’m glad you asked. Oftentimes, living our truth comes at the expense of clinging to sin. Especially if our truth is being with another man’s wife; cheating your customers out of their money; and etc. Usually our “truths” are lived from our hearts, and that is a dangerous place to acquire truth. Matthew 15:19 says, “For from the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, and slander.” In other words, “it is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”(Jer.17:9) Even as Christians, we risk the chance of being led astray by the suggestions of our heart. This is why Christ admonished in Matthew 22:37 to “love the Lord your God with all your heart…” He knew that if we did not submit to God’s lordship in our hearts that our lives would not reflect His presence in us. Matthew 15:18 says, “But the things that come out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” This also rings true about the way we live. If we are living from the truth of hearts that have not submitted to God, we will live lives that lead to all kinds of death.

The world has a luxury that we gave up when we decided to become a Christian, and that is the permission to live by their “truth.” They have the right to sleep with who they want; marry who they want; and take what they want. We forsook that privilege in order to obtain the privilege of being children of God. We no longer live according to the truths of our heart, but we live according to the truths of his Word. “Following our heart” is no longer an adequate excuse to remain in sin. God’s Truth (the Bible) trumps our truth (the suggestions of the heart).

Christians who lived before the Bible was accessible to all, maybe could have blamed their unrighteous living on ignorance. But we are without excuse. We have to make a decision to live according to the flesh (the suggestions of our heart) or the Spirit (the suggestions of the Holy Spirit). I encourage each of us to take a moment today and examine the “truths” we are living. If the Bible is clear on the matter, bring yourself under the subjection of God’s truth. If the Bible is unclear on the matter, seek wise counsel and be prayerful until you receive instructions on what to do. Always remember living any truth outside of God’s word will result in death (Romans 8:5-13). Today I pray we as believers are found choosing life. Thanks for reading and never forget that Love Lives FREE!!!

 

Prayer: Father thank you so much for the privilege of being your child, and I repent for living a life that does not reflect I belong to You. Today, I ask that you would bring to light all the “truths” that I have been living contrary to yours. Today I submit to your lordship over my heart, and I thank you for the grace to live in a way that is proof of your existence in me in Jesus name.

 

 

 

Meme Credit: The Daily Quote on Pinterest